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On this date in 1892, Frank Crosswaith was born. He was a Black labor union organizer and political activist.
He was born in Fredericksted, St. Croix, Danish West Indies (now the U.S. virgin Islands) and emigrated to the United States in his late teens. After graduating from the Rand School of New York City he began a career in Black labor organizations. In the early 1920s, Crosswaith began his long collaboration with A. Phillip Randolph by joining the Messenger magazine in opposing Marcus Garvey. Five years later he joined and became a full-time organizer with the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP).
He left that organization in the 1930s, and became a general organizer for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union. Crosswaith’s work with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) sought to organize Black workers in America. As a result, a number of union locals began to hire African Americans. These locals included the Motion Picture Operators, Cleaners, Dryers, Pressers, Drivers Unions, and other low-wage unions. Unlike other left-leaning West Indian blacks, Crosswaith did not support the Communist Party during the Socialist split of 1919.
He remained with Randolph’s Black Socialist faction and became an intense anti-Communist. In 1942, he was appointed to the New York City Housing Authority; he held this part-time, nonsalaried position for five years. He also was the chairman of Randolph’s Youth March for integrated schools in Washington D.C. in 1958.
Frank R. Crosswaith died in New York City on June 17, 1965.
The African American Atlas
Black History & Culture an Illustrated Reference
by Molefi K. Asanta and Mark T. Mattson
Macmillam USA, Simon & Schuster, New York